Gender Reveal: A Letter to My Children

Reverend Kim posted the following on her Facebook page on 12/12/17.  Seeing the large community response and with her agreement, we repost it here.

“I have spent one gazillion hours in consideration and conversation about whether or not to share this. Some of the conversations have included stereotypes of lesbians, risk of ministry, and trust of relationship / reader. I guess I keep coming back to this: if I don’t share it now, when it’s relevant (because my fear is it won’t always be relevant, and not because we’ll have fixed something) then I will have chosen not to speak about something out of fear rather than call. That would be the first time, I believe. So here’s trusting the spirit….


Dear sweet Tobias,
Dear sweet Baby who kicks and swims, in formation, soon to be,

Tobias, I remember the day the technician said your Mama was carrying a boy inside her belly. The baby is a boy, he said! And I felt my stomach flip and swirl. For all the check lists and registries and ways I planned to paint your room, this was the first moment that hadn’t gone as expected.

Let me be clear, my love: I didn’t want for a girl, a daughter. For some reason I just thought that is who would come to be. Or at least, I felt the need to prepare for a daughter, and this preparation turned into expectation. I admit that upon hearing of your sex I was a tad relieved. I knew the turmoil I put my mother through that my brothers did not; the dark ages of the teenage years, and some more later, too. The baby is a boy – A deep breath for no parent-child unrest; no shame of body; no fighting to be taken seriously; no need for universities that are made up of your own; no lipstick to be heard; no profession out of bounds.

The swaths of things I would have to prepare her for (my daughter-who-wouldn’t-be) fell away. Let me count the ways: You, my boy, pink at birth, but no question white, would have an easier road for all the reasons America provides. And some small part of me felt relieved. Shameful that this is the truth, but this is a letter about truth.

It’s taken me too long to unearth, to face, to name, to pocket as part of me, my own learnings about gender. Over the course of our almost decade together, your Mama has given me a new language, music, power and pride that was otherwise lost on me, for which I am grateful like I would be to a Creator for the gift of life. This too feels embarrassing many days. How I had to learn what it meant to be a woman, and then to love those truths as something powerful. I thought I had done and undone all there was to undo but then, I was a little relieved to learn you’d be, at least by anatomy, a boy. My first failure to my daughter who wouldn’t be.

I write to you about this today because Giants fell today. And for days others have too. These men who were respected and idolized and idealized and had power of money and fame and intellect – I think that’s the hardest one, intellect, too. They used the bodies of women, many of whom they knew; women with whom they had working relationships or friendships, knew their families, their goals, their personhood. And still, they used their bodies…I search for an analogy that would be fair: they used the bodies of women as if receptacles of their desires? Of their insecurities? In order to measure the power of their power? Receptacles of their distaste? To be clear that they so hated the risk of not being wanted they gave no choice?

My beautiful children, I love every inch of you. I crave your presence, your laughter, your affection, the safety you find in me, the possibilities that are before you. I beg you to hear this without critique of your bodies and instead know it as a love note for who I know you can become.

There are men who have touched me and said things to me that make me hate my skin. For all the honesty in this letter, I won’t say more about this. Except again something about power – of fear – about saying nothing; or the learned practice of closed-door-venting that allows one to move on.

Why is that? Why is there such fear in calling out behaviors that make another feel small, feel preyed upon, like a receptacle for use? Maybe this letter isn’t about truth but about shame, for it keeps me up at night to know how silent I am and think I might raise you to be some other kind of person, let alone man.

Actually, men. Plural. Mama’s belly has grown again. I feel the kicks and dancing each night against my hand. Another boy. You want to call him Rock and Roll.

There is no relief this time, though. Still joy. Still awe. Still celebration. Again, my son-to-be, please hear me: I didn’t want for a girl, a daughter; no more than I wanted a boy, another son. I just know more this time; about how high the stakes are; about my own capabilities and fears.

I remember the day I saw an older black man smile something big at Tobias when he was still so tiny. People were rioting in the streets of major cities; white Police Officers were being acquitted; black children, men, and women, were dead. I wondered how he could smile at my white son like that. And today, I hear his teachers praise the toy wrench in his hand. All boy! they laugh. And I wonder, what does it mean to celebrate that?

You are the most wonderful part of the earth, my children. How will I raise you to know the power you have; the beauty you are; the ways of celebration of your own bodies, and the respect and celebration of others?

Bravely and lovingly, a dear friend said. May it be so.

Rev. Kim Wildszewski